The Banashankari Temple at Badami is a somewhat lesser known entity compared to its massively popular next-door neighbour - the rock-cut cave temples of Badami, so much so that I’m writing about this temple after almost 3 years of visiting the place. The inspiration came after a couple of friends recently went to this temple on their Hampi- Badami-Pattadackal circuit tour. Thanks to their trip, I start digging into the pages of history for gathering more info on the temple. It’s not for nothing people say that every travel is an education in itself.
My Rating: 6/10
Those were the days when my better half worked in Hubli and I in Bangalore. So on one of my visits to Hubli we decided to cover the Badami-Pattadackal-Aihole circuit. As it turned out, we cut short our trip after visiting Banashankari Temple and Badami Cave Temples. That morning we started off from Hubli in a rickety government-owned bus and reached our destination close to noon. After alighting from the bus we enquired about Badami cave temples with a rickshaw guy in our broken Kannada interspersed with Hindi. Whether it was a total communication failure or taking-us-for-a-ride thingy, we were dropped off in front of Banashankari Temple.
This 7th Century AD temple complex instantly catches your attention with its high walls, watch-cum-lamp tower and large temple pond with stone mantapas on three sides. Not one to waste an opportunity of looking at the architectural wonders of our forefathers we entered the temple and offered prayers to Banashankari (a.k.a Vanashankari) Devi. Banashankari is believed to be another form of Lord Shiva's consort Parvathi. This temple was originally built in 7th Century by the Kalyani Chalukya Kings and later renovated in the 17th Century by a Maratha Chieftain Parasuram Agale. Hence, even though the original temple has glimpses of Dravidian style, the later additions are the distinct style of the Vijayanagara era.
According to the scriptures, people of this area were harassed by the demon Durgamasura. Answering the fervent prayers of the inhabitants, Shakambari Devi was sent to protect the people. Not surprisingly the demon was killed in a fierce battle and peace restored in the area. The forests around the temple provided enough food for the people here in times of a famine. Hence the Goddess got the name Shakambari. It is definitely worth visiting this temple which is rich in history and mythology.
Getting-there: From Hubli take the Gulbarga-Bijapur highway and take right at Kulgeri.
Must-Do: Check out the age-old lamp tower and temple pond.Must-Don’t: Vandalism and littering.
My Rating: 6/10